Jake Pratt is an 18-year-old boy with down syndrome who is passionate about football. For the past two years, he has been dedicating one day a week to his high school varsity football team while working as a manager. But, recently, Pratt got a little bit more ambitious and decided that he wanted to step it up and wear the uniform right along with the team.
The Vestavia Hills High School football coach, Buddy Johnson agreed with the request but Pratt had to abide by a few simple rules…if he wanted to wear the uniform like everyone else on the team, then he had to come to practices and games like the other players.
Without trepidation, Pratt agreed to the rule and soon he was participating like everyone else, and giving it his all.
“He did all the summer workouts and weight lifting and running,” said Johnson, who has worked at the school for 46 years. “Some days it was real tough, but he did all the work.”’
Because Pratt had not only committed to the workouts but when above and beyond, his newfound teammates decided they wanted to do something for him as a reward. Johnson, along with Pratt’s teammates, arranged for the boy to score a touchdown against Briarwood Christian School during their Saturday game.
Pratt’s five minutes of fame was captured in a touching video, where he seizes the opportunity of a lifetime. In the video, you can witness Pratt running a 35-yard touchdown as the entire stadium cheers him on. You can hear the spectators chanting his name as he runs the length of the field. Then, his proud teammates follow closely behind him in a sea of blue uniforms. The applause goes on for quite some time and it is sure to make Jake feel like one special guy.
“He was ecstatic, he still is,” said Johnson. “It was a very moving moment. We are very proud of Jake.”
And Jake certainly isn’t done working hard right along with the team. He will continue training right beside them for the rest of the season.
“He’ll be here the whole season,” Johnson said. “Because he has worked and done all of the work that the rest of the team have done, they accept him and to them, he is a part of a team.”
In a world where there is so much bullying amongst high school students, it’s refreshing to hear such a heartwarming story where a boy is accepting and not treated like he is different from everyone else. These football players and the coach should be proud of how they treated Pratt.
Commenters shared their thoughts on the heartwarming video…
“I was in high school, there were some kids with Downes Syndrome in the special ed area that would arm wrestle each other all the time and you knew they would whoop you no problem. Just because someone might have some sort of disability doesn’t mean they don’t have a skill or ability that far surpasses your own.”